Thomas the Tenk Engine an Friends
|Thomas & Friends|
|Kent as an aw||Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (original title)|
|Creautit bi||Britt Allcroft|
|Based on||The Railway Series|
bi Rev. W. Awdry
|Vyces o||See List of Thomas & Friends voice actors|
|Kintra o oreegin||United Kingdom|
|No. o series||21|
|No. o episodes||512 (leet o episodes)|
|Lenth||4-5 minutes (1984–2003); 7 minutes (2004–08); 9-10 minutes (17 min.; one episode) (2004–present)|
|Distributor||Various distributors, including: |
Connecticut Public Television (2004–07)
|Oreeginal release||9 October 1984– present|
Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (simply referred tae as Thomas & Friends or Thomas the Tank Engine) is a Breetish children's television series. In the U.K. it haed its first broadcast on the ITV network in Great Britain in 1984. In the U.S. it haed its first broadcast on Shining Time Station in 1989. It is based on The Railway Series of books bi the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher Awdry.
Thir books follae the adventures o a group of anthropomorphised locomotives and road vehicles who live on the fictional Island of Sodor. The books war based on stories Wilbert told tae entertain his son, Christopher, during his recovery frae measles. Mony of the stories frae the first fower series are based on events frae Awdry's personal experience.
History[eedit | eedit soorce]
Precursors[eedit | eedit soorce]
Afore the airing of the first episode of Thomas & Friends in 1984, previous attempts haed been made tae adapt Awdry's stories for television, but nae all attempts war successfu. The first wis in 1953, when the editor of the Railway Series books, Eric Marriott, wis approached bi the BBC, who wished tae uise live-action model trains tae re-creaut twa stories frae Awdry's first beuk, The Three Railway Engines.
The engines war portrayed bi 00 gauge Hornby Dublo models and driven on authentic sets in the style of the oreeginal illustrations. The first episode, based on "The Sad Story of Henry", wis broadcast live on the evening of Sunday 14 Juin 1953 frae Lime Grove Studios. The live broadcast did nae fare well. Reportedly, a failure tae switch the pynts caused the model of Henry tae derail and viewers of the live broadcast witnessed a human haund, said tae be the ane o a crew member, picking him up and placin him back on the rails. Models moved jerkily, an all effects and muisic haed tae be superimposed.
Bi 23 Juin, news of the broadcast hit the front pages of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Awdry himsel branded the episode as "unprofessional", and the pynt-switching debacle as an "elementary mistake". As a result, the seicont episode scheduled for 28 Juin 1953 wis put on haud, an then later cancelled. Efter the "Sad Story of Henry" fiasco, the BBC did attempt tae rescue the project bi offerin tae gie Awdry and the Railway Series publishers greater creative control ower the production of the episodes, but the publishers declined the offer, preferring tae focus on publishing new books for the series.
Nearly twinty years later, the BBC incorporated Awdry's stories ance again. Fourteen years afore Thomas and Friends wis aired, Ted Ray, sitting in a stationmaster's office, read oot five Railway Series books atween 20 September tae 2 October 1970 on the popular television story-telling shaw Jackanory.
Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and its success[eedit | eedit soorce]
In 1979, Breetish television producer Britt Allcroft wis producin a documentary on the Bluebell Railway, a heritage railway in Sussex which actually featurt in the Railway Series beuk Stepney the Bluebell Engine. As pairt of her research afore filmin, Allcroft read some books in The Railway Series and wis heichly entertained and impressed with the stories which Awdry haed written, later remarking that "there was something in the stories that I felt I could develop that would connect with children. I saw a strong emotional content that would carry with little children's experiences with life."
Allcroft worked tae convince Awdry that she coud, with funding, convert the stories intae a successfu television shaw. Her efforts war successfu, an she purchased the television rights frae the publishers of The Railway Series at a cost of what wis then £50,000 ($74,000 in U.S. dollars at the time). Allcroft still haed tae work tae raise the money tae finance production and, despite shawin a keen interest, wanted a level of creative control which she did nae want tae forego. In the end, efter several years of searching and haein tae place a seicont mortgage on her home, Allcroft raised sufficient funding frae her local bank manager.
Bi 1981, Allcroft haed secured the finances tae produce the shaw, she stairtit tae assemble the crew, includin producer and director David Mitton, an aa the founder of Clearwater Features Ltd.; crew member Steve Asquith; American-born producer Robert D. Cardona; and the selected team of composers and songwriters Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell.
The series stairtit production in 1984 bi Allcroft's production company, The Britt Allcroft Company; Clearwater Features Ltd. (Mitton and Cardona's company); and the ITV company Central Independent Television. The series wis oreeginally shot and produced with live action models at the Clearwater in hoose studio in Battersea, a suburb of Lunnon, for Series 1. It later relocated tae Shepperton Studios, Middlesex, southwest of Lunnon for subsequent series. The uise of muivin models wis seen at the time of the series' conception as an effective method of animating the stories. Locomotives and ither vehicles war operated bi radio, while humans and animals war static figures. Stop-motion wis occasionally employed for instances in which a human or ainimal character wad muive. Haund-drawn animation wis uised in Series 3 tae creaut bees.
The first series (1984) uised stories frae the first aicht books, alang with ane specially written bi the Rev. W. Awdry, Thomas's Christmas Party. The seicont series (1986) uised stories frae Beuk 9 (Edward the Blue Engine) tae Beuk 30 (More About Thomas the Tank Engine). This beuk wis unusual, as it wis written specifically bi Christopher Awdry tae be adapted bi the shaw. At that time, it wis a contractual obligation that the series coud anly adapt stories that appeared in prent. The series an aa uised a story frae a Thomas Annual, "Thomas and Trevor", and a specially written staund-alone story, Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree. The seicont series wis actually a 27-episode series, as a single (unaired) episode ("The Missing Coach") wis in the process of bein filmed, but despite bein filmed it wis never shawn acause Allcroft decidit it wis too confusing for young viewers. The production team went on tae uise "Thomas, Percy and the Coal" instead.
In atween production of the seicont and third series, the production team war focused in producin twa ither television series: Tugs, which ran for ane series frae 1988 tae 1990 for Television South (TVS); and the American television series Shining Time Station, which repackaged Thomas & Friends for the American television mercat frae 1989 tae 1995.
Juist afore production of series three, Clearwater closed on 31 December 1990, with The Britt Allcroft Company acomin the sole producer. Series three wis broadcast in 1991 for Thames Television. It wis made at a cost of £1.3 million (approximately $9.3.million in U.S. dollars at the time).[verification needit] The series wis a combination of episodes derived frae The Railway Series, stories in the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends magazine (written bi the series' current head writer, Andrew Brenner), and a couple of oreeginal stories bi Allcroft and Mitton.
Ane of the primary reasons for diverging frae the oreeginal books wis that mony of the stories nae yet uised featurt lairge nummers of new characters, which wad be expensive tae produce. Anither reason wis that the producers wanted more stories about Thomas, the nominal main character. Awdry worried that the new stories wad be unrealistic (see Henry the Green Engine for more details). Robert D. Cardona left as producer, while Britt Allcroft jynt David Mitton as co-producer. Angus Wright teuk ower as executive producer.
Series fower wis broadcast in 1994 on Cartoon Network. The producers planned tae introduce some new female characters, includin motor car Caroline, Nancy, and The Refreshment Lady. Some commentators teuk this as a response tae accusations of sexism levelled against the series twa years earlier. In reality, thir war nae "new" characters, but creations of Awdry frae the oreeginal Railway Series books. Series fower wis awmaist entirely based on The Railway Series. The narrow gauge engines war introduced, an war the focus o a nummer of episodes. Anly ane oreeginal story ("Rusty to the Rescue", written bi Allcroft and Mitton) wis uised, but this teuk certaint elements of plot and dialogue frae Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine.
The fift series (1998), an aa broadcast on Cartoon Network, wis a radical shift, as all episodes war written bi Allcroft and Mitton with no faur stories bein adapted frae the "Railway Series". This series saw the introduction of new characters, sic as Cranky, The Horrid Lorries and Old Slow Coach. It an aa focused on more dramatic and edgy plot-lines, with more severe accidents, than in the earlier seasons.[citation needit] Efter series 5, Angus Wright stepped doun as executive producer.
Thomas and the Magic Railroad wis released in Julie 2000 in the UK, Canadae, an the United States. It featurt new characters creatit bi Allcroft, alang with characters frae the shaw that introduced Thomas tae the U.S., Shining Time Station. Despite high production values and the popularity of the shaw, the film wis criticised bi Breetish reviewers who war unfamiliar with Shining Time Station. The movie wis well received bi young children on baith sides of the Atlantic, but made anly $19.7 million at the box office, against a cost of [citation needit] The film wis broadcast on BBC1 on 1 Januar 2004 and again on 29 December 2008.
Thomas & Friends and its recent developments[eedit | eedit soorce]
The saxt and seivent series (baith broadcast on CITV) continued tae introduce action-packed storylines and new characters, an saw the introduction o a writing staff. The saxt series in 2002 wis notable for its attempt tae creaut a spin-off based on the successfu "Bob the Builder" series. Twa episodes introduced a group of construction machine characters kent as "The Pack". The spin-off didn't materialise for some time. Eventually, in 2006, thirteen episodes war released straucht tae DVD as a collection cried On Site with Thomas.
The fact that aulder sets war uised and the episodes war shot on 35mm camera (as opposed tae the digital camera uised at the time of the episodes' release) suggest it wis filmed some time afore Series 8. In Series 7 (2003) the programme title wis offeecially shortened tae Thomas & Friends, this name haein been uised on merchandise and video covers for three years previously. Phil Fehrle replaced Allcroft and Mitton as producer, tho Mitton remained as the director. Executive producer Angus Wright wis replaced bi Peter Urie and Allcroft as executive producers for Series 6.
The aicht series (2004) wis the first released directly tae VHS and DVD as fower episodes in the US and sax in the UK war released afore airing on television on Nick Jr. in the UK and PBS in the US. It introduced a nummer of significant changes tae the shaw. Mony of the oreeginal founding team involved in the oreeginal shaw syne 1984 left the production, notably Britt Allcroft, director and writer David Mitton, an oreeginal composers Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell. The latter twa haed been embroiled in a protracted legal dispute with HiT afore thair departure. Steve Asquith, who wis pairt of the oreeginal production team syne 1984, teuk ower as director, while Simon Spencer replaced Phil Fehrle as producer.
A new theme sang and incidental muisic war componed bi Ed Welch and Robert Hartshorne, respectively. Episode runtime wis increased tae seiven minutes. The series wis produced uisin digital video camera, creautin a somewhat different leuk for the shaw. Ither changes included the additions of CGI educational sequences and transitions atween stories. Executive producer Peter Urie an aa left, while Jocelyn Stevenson remained in her role as executive producer. Sam Barlow became the story executive, while Abi Grant and Paul Larson served as script editors. This series saw the adoption o a centralised cast, includin Thomas the Tank Engine, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby and Emily.
A straucht-tae-video film, Calling All Engines!, wis released shortly afore Series 9 in 2005. While featurin characters frae Thomas and the Magic Railroad, it wis nae a direct sequel. It proved successfu, which resulted in more direct-tae-video specials bein produced.
Series 9 (2005) and 10 (2006) saw the expansion of the supporting cast with new and auld characters. Frae Series 9 the narrator wad caw oot the episodes' names and frae Series 11 the theme sang wis sung stairtin with the sound o a train whistle. Series 10 aired with twinty-aicht episodes rather than the twinty-sax of previous years. The eleventh series (2007) wis filmed in high definition format. Twinty episodes aired in the oreeginal broadcast, while sax war released directed tae DVD as Engines and Escapades. Jocelyn Stevenson haed stepped doun as executive producer efter Series 10, with Christopher Skala takkin her place as executive producer for Series 11. Sharon Miller became the script editor frae Series 9 tae 11.
Series 12 (2008) saw the introduction of CGI effects (providit bi HiT Entertainment's subsidiary Hot Animation), with the intent of producin the shaw entirely in CGI the follaein year. The traditional models and sets war still uised, but with computer animatit faces superimposed on the models tae allou for changing facial expressions. Humans and animals war fully computer animatit tae allou for walkin movement. Anly twinty episodes war broadcast (the U.S. broadcast featurt sax additional episodes frae Engines and Escapades). Sharon Miller became the head writer, stairtin with Series 12.
HiT annoonced multiple changes tae the shaw beginnin in 2009. Ane new aspect wis the introduction of live-action host segments tae Thomas' home video releases. The host teuk the form o a character who worked on The Fat Controller's (Sir Topham Hatt's) railway, who wad instruct viewers in craft projects. For the final 2 DVDs released for Saison 12 in 2009, the host wis named Mr. Arkwright (played bi Robert Slate). In 2010, beginnin with the DVD Splish splash splosh, the host wis named Mr. Perkins (played bi Ben Forster) and haes remained host ever syne.
For budgetary reasons, the ither major changes war a muive tae production in CGI, rather than uisin physical models, an the addition o a voice cast tae support the established narrator. The DVD featur, Hero of the Rails, wis the first Thomas & Friends production tae shaw thir changes, an Series 13 wis the first television series in the new format. The CGI animation for the series wis providit bi Nitrogen Studios of Vancouver.
In September 2010, Apax wis preparing tae sell off HiT Entertainment and its franchises, includin Thomas – regarded as the single maist valuable asset – in order tae help clear HiT's debts, an in Februar 2012, sauld the company, alang with the Thomas properties, tae US toy giant Mattel.
During production of Series 16 (2012), Sharon Miller stepped doun as head writer, an Andrew Brenner, who haed written some Thomas stories in the third series, assumed the role efter serving as script editor for "Blue Mountain Mystery". Additionally, Sam Barlow stepped doun as story executive efter the sixteenth series, an the production of the CGI animation wis moved frae Nitrogen Studios (of Vancouver) tae Arc Productions (of Toronto). King of the Railway and Series 17, baith released during 2013, serve as the first special and series developed bi the new animation and production team respectively.
2014 saw Tale of the Brave and Series 18, the seicont special and series animatit bi Arc, respectively. 2015 saw The Adventure Begins, a special coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the franchise, an Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure; Series 19 began airing that same year. 2016 saw some changes; longtime composers Robert and Peter Hartshorne, faither and son team, left the series and Chris Renshaw and Oliver Davis teuk ower. 2016 an aa saw Thomas & Friends: The Great Race and Series 20 began airing the same year. Series 20 wis the last series of the shaw tae air on PBS Kids; when series 21 began airing in 2017, the American broadcast of the shaw wis moved tae Nick Jr., endin a period of awmaist 30 years of The Railway Series on American public television.
Cast[eedit | eedit soorce]
Oreeginally, narrating wis uised as the anly voice in the series until 2008. Britt Allcroft thocht it essential tae convey the episode as a story that wad be read frae a beuk at home. Individual voice-ower actors war gien tae baith the UK and US dubs of the Series, follaein the switch tae full CGI animation in 2009.
List of productions[eedit | eedit soorce]
Television series[eedit | eedit soorce]
|Series||Year||Episodes||DVD release date (R2)||DVD release date (R4)|
|1||1984||26||31 Januar 2005||2 Mey 2006|
|2||1986||18 Apryle 2005||13 Apryle 2006|
|3||1991–92||23 Januar 2006||6 Julie 2006|
|4||1994–95||24 Julie 2006||8 September 2006|
|5||1998||5 Februar 2007||8 September 2006|
|6||2002||2 Julie 2007||5 Januar 2009|
|7||2003||14 Januar 2008||4 Juin 2009|
|8||2004||28 Julie 2008||4 Juin 2009|
|9||2005||19 Januar 2009||2 Mairch 2010|
|10||2006||28||17 Mey 2010||2 Juin 2010|
|11||2007||26||26 Julie 2010||2 Juin 2011|
|12||2008||20||21 Februar 2011||1 Mairch 2012|
|13||2010||13 Februar 2012|
|14||22 Julie 2013|
|15||2011||7 Julie 2014|
|16||2012||25 Mey 2015|
|17||2013–14||26||18 Julie 2016|
|18||2014–15||19 Juin 2017|
Films, specials, and miniseries[eedit | eedit soorce]
Home video history[eedit | eedit soorce]
Ower the history of the programme, the TV episodes and specials hae been released for home viewing in a variety of compilations, formats and leids, bi a variety of publishing houses.
Production[eedit | eedit soorce]
Characters[eedit | eedit soorce]
Storytelling[eedit | eedit soorce]
Up until Series 12, narration and dialogue war performed bi a single storyteller. This wis the choice of Allcroft, who wanted the television stories tae be an extension of the wey thay wad be told at home in a comforting environment. All character emotions wad come frae the nuances of the storyteller's voice, in conjunction with facial expressions, muisic, an actions on-screen.
Models[eedit | eedit soorce]
The oreeginal live action models war filmed on an extensive model railway layout biggit at the studios. The models war biggit tae the 1:32 scale, kent in model railway circles as "Gauge 1". The locomotives uised chassis made bi Märklin with specially made bodies. Alang with the muivin-ee and eyelid mechanisms and clay faces, thir bodies an aa included smoke generators. Coaches and trucks war made uisin Tenmille kits. Later models war biggit entirely frae scratch. Some of the models frae the sister television series Tugs war reused in later episodes of the series.
Frae Series 5 tae 12, some lairger-scale models war uised for the narrow gauge characters, tae more easily fit the complex mechanisms intae them while retaining a sufficient level of detail. In Series 6, the characters kent as "the Pack" (construction machines) war an aa biggit on a lairge scale, an lairger models of Thomas and Percy war made tae interact with them. In the ninth series, anither lairger Thomas model wis biggit tae the same scale as the narrow gauge engines tae provide greater possibilities for interaction. It wis jynt bi a lairge version of James in the tenth series. In 2009, some of thir models war put on display in a special exhibit at Drayton Manor Theme Park's Thomas Land. Nitrogen Studios, who providit the animation for the series frae series 12 tae 16, an aa haes some of the oreeginal models on display.
Face movements[eedit | eedit soorce]
At the shaw's conception in 1984, live action model animation wad nae deliver lip sync, but shaw co-creautor Britt Allcroft and model director David Mitton did nae see this as an inhibition. About 20 years later houiver, with advancement in technology, the shaw saw the introduction of CGI bi HIT Entertainment's subsidiary HOT Animation. At first this wis uised tae generate smoke and ither effects, but later, HIT (the current owners of Thomas) annoonced its intent tae introduce a fully CGI series in 2009. With Series 12, CGI bi Nitrogen Studios wis uised tae animate characters' faces and tae mak fowk and animals mobile within the stories. The follaein series saw a transition tae full CGI animation.
Music[eedit | eedit soorce]
Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell componed the shaw's oreeginal main title theme, incidental muisic and sangs, which war uised for series 1–7 comprising 182 episodes atween 1984 and 2003.
In 2004, Robert Hartshorne teuk O'Donnell and Campbell's place as composer, while Ed Welch became the shaw's songwriter frae Series 8 tae The Great Discovery, and Welch left efter The Great Discovery. Hartshorne teuk his place as songwriter frae Series 12 and onwards. Frae Day of the Diesels/2011-2016, Robert's son Peter Hartshorne helped him with the muisic.
In 2016 the Hartshornes left the series and Chris Renshaw and Oliver Davis teuk thair places.
Head writer[eedit | eedit soorce]
Template:Refimprove section Syne series 12, thare haes been a head writer for the series. Prior tae the introduction o a head writer, the script editor performed seemilar duties. Sharon Miller served as head writer frae series 12–16 and stepped doun efter series 16 and wis replaced bi Andrew Brenner, who haed written mony "Thomas" stories for various magazines as well as his ain oreeginal stories, several of which war later adapted for television episodes for Series 3 and Series 5, for which he haed remained uncredited. Brenner haed been a writer of several ither children's animatit series, sic as Angelina Ballerina, Tractor Tom, Fireman Sam, The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers, Spot, Poppy Cat, and Binka, as well as bein the creautor of Caribou Kitchen, and Humf and writer for several magazines featurin children's characters sic as The Real Ghostbusters, Fireman Sam, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, and Thomas's sister series Tugs and haes written scripts and teuk ower as head writer for Thomas for King of the Railway and onwards. Sharon Miller haes an aa been the voice director syne the seicont CGI animatit film Misty Island Rescue, and continues tae work on the series in this capacity.
- Script editors
- Abi Grant (series 6)
- Jan Page (series 7)
- Abi Grant and Paul Larson (series 8)
- Sharon Miller (series 9-11)
- Becky Evans (series 16, last few episodes)
- Head writer
- Sharon Miller (series 12–16)
- Andrew Brenner (series 17–present)
Broadcast[eedit | eedit soorce]
In the United Kinrick, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends wis oreeginally broadcast on ITV until 1992. In the United States, the series premiered on PBS Kids in 2004. The series haed first appeared anly as sequences on Shining Time Station during the program's run frae 1989 tae 1995. The sequences of the series later aired in 1996 on Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales. The series aired on Storytime with Thomas on Fox Family (nou Freeform) frae 1998 tae 2001. When Thomas & Friends premiered on PBS, it wis first distributed frae 2004 tae 2007 bi Connecticut Public Television and bi WNET frae 2008 tae 2017. The program airs in Australia on ABC Kids and on FOUR in New Zealand. In Canadae, it plays on TVO, Family Jr., and Knowledge Kids. The rights of PBS tae broadcast this series expired in December 2017; this ended a period of awmaist 30 years of programming relatit tae The Railway Series on American public television.
Reception[eedit | eedit soorce]
Critical response[eedit | eedit soorce]
Common Sense Media rated the shaw a 4 oot of 5 stars statin "Parents can be assured that this series has educational aspects as well as behavioral modeling. The Thomas the Tank Engine stories were conceived by a young British boy early in the 20th century, who would listen to the trains as they chuffed through the countryside. The stories he told his son -- who has consequently passed them on to his own son -- have been documented in books and toy train models. Since the series was introduced to television viewers in the 1980s, Thomas & Friends has seen a healthy fan base sprout worldwide. Some of the expressions on the train's faces can be a tiny bit creepy, but the intention behind the animation is good, as follows the tradition of a well-told story."
Internet popularity[eedit | eedit soorce]
In the 2010s, Thomas & Friends became the subject of several internet memes, and wis even the centrepiece of an article for The New Yorker, which explored supposedly totalitarian subtexts present in the shaw.
References[eedit | eedit soorce]
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